How to Start Running

Someone recently asked me how to start running, so I thought I’d share some tips.

The first and most important thing is to set yourself up for success. There are several aspects to this.

  • Go get a physical and make sure you are in the right health to start a new exercise program. I know, that doesn’t seem like starting, but you can get stopped really fast, and even permanently, if you have an underlying condition that you don’t know about.
  • Head to a running store and have them fit you for the right shoes. This is HUGE. Just because the shoes look awesome and are your favorite color doesn’t make them the best shoe for you. Most running stores will do a gait analysis and pair that with your running experience to find shoes that are right for your body and your level of experience.
  • Walk before you run. I know, it’s not running, but if you’ve not even been walking for exercise, it’s important to start there. I like Hal Higdon’s training plans and he has walking plans from 5K to marathon distance walking. You don’t have to walk a marathon in order to prepare to start running, but the 5K walking plan is a great way to start walking and built your stamina and endurance in preparation to running.
  • Consider tools to measure distance. You don’t have to go out and buy an expensive race watch, there are apps you can use on your phone, like Map My Run, Nike Plus, and other GPS trackers.

Ok, so you’ve done all that, what now?

  • Have a plan. Again, I like Hal Higdon, but there are lots of free running plans out there, just to an internet search for “free running plans.”
  • Find a friend or group to run with. Boy does this make a difference! Look for running groups or clubs on Facebook or Meetup. Having friends to help encourage and give you pointers and tips is invaluable. Don’t be intimidated by running groups—they are full of people at all levels of running. Chances are you will not be the only new runner and odds are you won’t be the slowest either. And, as a single woman, I find it’s safer to run with someone rather than alone.
  • Be patient with yourself. It’s not easy, give yourself a break and realize you’re learning a new skill. Some days are great, but some runs really, really suck, especially if your short distance run feels harder than the long run you had earlier in the week. Oh, and there’s no shame in walking during your run! Don’t beat yourself up because you had to walk in the middle of your run or had to walk the last quarter mile of every mile—it’s totally normal and ok! Lots of people walk-run.
  • Rest, hydrate, and eat. The reason I love training plans is that they have REST DAYS. While it doesn’t seem to make sense to not run one or two days a week, the rest days can do more for building your running than running. Your body needs to regenerate and needs food, water, and rest to do this.
  • Find a fun event! Nothing is more motivating than having a race to prepare for! You can find races at Active.com, Facebook, through your network of running friends, etc. Sign up for one that appeals to you, that sounds fun, that maybe is for a good cause, a neat location, etc.

Those are my tips for starting to run. There’s lots of other little tips and tricks, but I wanted to focus on the big ones.

Coming up, I’ll have tips for starting to swim, bike, and triathlon too!

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